As you already know, the annual Theatre Under The Stars productions of Mama Mia and Newsies have garnered great reviews and equally great attendance. In fact, it’s been so sold out that they have been selling $30 tickets for seats on the hill and extended the run for an extra week. The scoop is that last week, they had an extra special guest in the Newsies audience. It was Kenny Ortega, Disney’s Newsies director of the Hollywood film – and he loved it!. And no raccoon crossed the stage!


(click arrows on each side of photos to see slide-show)

Joe Fortes, one of the most popular dining spots in town finally “officially” opened their gorgeous roof top gardens in the heart of downtown Vancouver, an event cancelled earlier because of unexpected downpours.

Late last month under sunny blue skies, the fortunate media arrived to ooh and aah over the delectable selections of yummy lobster rolls, crab legs, fresh oysters, scallops, tuna and shrimp, mini burgers and luscious desserts.

Joe Fortes is famous for its setting, the spectacular flower-laden garden, its seafood towers, fresh oysters and its many charitable events.

It was 1985 when Dotty and Bud Kanke opened Joe Forte’s. They already had Mulvaney’s on Granville Island, The Fish House in Stanley Park and The Cannery on the waterfront in East Vancouver.

The original owners of Joe Fortes, Bud nd Dotty Kanke, from our earlier gala-gala-do files!

Dotty was intrigued with the idea of rather than an outdoor patio on busy Thurlow, creating a roof top garden where diners and their guests could breathe the fresh air, smell the flowers and herbs, gaze at the skyline and totally de-stress out. She called on her best friend, gardening genius Thomas Hobbs, to help her. It took a year, but the end result was exactly what she wanted – peace and tranquility. It was enlarged in 1998 and renovated in 2007.

Bud and Dotty sold Joe Fortes to restaurateur David Aisenstat in 2012, who continues to make Joe’s even better. For years, executive chef, the congenial Wayne Sych, has kept Joe’s on diners‘ A-list, winning numerous awards.

Well, there’s been a change. There is someone new hovering over the ovens in Joe’s kitchen. He’s chef Riley Green, who has been at Joe’s for 11 years, following in Wayne’s footsteps. Chef Wayne has been promoted to the executive team, searching for new locations and challenges.

Lots of familiar faces at the garden do, including chef, food stylist, and B.C.’s Seafood Ambassador, Nathan Fong, CBC’s Gloria Macarenko, Global’s Coleen Christie, Joe (Where’s the Beer) Leary, CTV weatherman Mark Driesschen and his designer wife Amandah Tanner, wine whiz Lenora Hayman and beau Jim Herbert, TWEJ’s editor and publisher Kevin Dale McKeown, Joshua and the media’s Fred Lee and one mysterious lady whose every word we devour each week in the Vancouver Sun. It was Mia Stainsby! Mia insists on staying anonymous, since she doesn’t want any extra attention or special treatment paid to her when she slips in to enjoy a quiet meal. Her photo has never appeared in her column.

The scoop is that I have one! If you look closely, you’ll find that she’s the lady behind the bouquet!...


Speaking of Nathan Fong, he is so excited about the annual Passions fundraiser for the Dr. Peter Foundation. This important event takes place on Thursday, September 26th at Performance Works on Granville Island. Over the years, thanks to the volunteer chefs and donors, more than $1.6 million has been raised for those suffering from AIDS.

At this very moment, he’s in London as a guest of the Edition Hotel in the glam Fitzrovia area, one of only four Canadians invited and the only one from the West. Then it’s off to Scotland to take in the Edinburgh Festival and its iconic Military Tattoo. But he’ll definitely be back in time for Passions, the event he began more than 16 years ago.

Leeta Liepins, Italian Con. Gen. Massimiliano Iaccini and Jim Gordon.


It was a very pleasant farewell party for Italian Consul General Massimiliano Iacchini at Stefano Ricci, the West End luxury brand men’s store on West Georgia last week. The charming diplomat has been in Vancouver with his wife Sara Antinori and their two children, Emma and Manu, for more than three years, and now heads back to Rome to the headquarters of the Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ministry.

Bianca Fusco Zanatta with the new French Con. gen. Philippe Sutter at Stefano Ricci reception.

During his stay in Vancouver, he made many friends among the business community and diplomatic corps and especially with the creative house designer and children’s charity organizer, Bianca Fusco Zanatta.

It was Bianca who organized the ciao do where Massimiliano was presented with something he has never worn - a tie! Seems that he has never owned one and didn’t know how to tie it. And it wasn’t just any tie – it was a gorgeous and expensive blue silk tie.

Among the crowd I spotted Leeta Liepins and Jim Gordon of CTV’s Our City Tonight, the new and beaming French Consul General Philippe Sutter, Margaret Rudolf, the Honorary Consul for Slovenia with her husband Dana along with dozens of business people...

Vancouver’s soon-to-be-former Four Seasons Hotel.

But Where Will Joe Take Lunch?

It’s official There will be no more Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Vancouver as of January 20, 2020. The closure of the storied property and the only leased Four Seasons in the chain, will see almost 450 employees out of work. It’s 30 storeys tall with 372 guest rooms. Rumours are that hotel chains like the Ritz Carleton might be interested in taking over the large property.

The Four Seasons opened the glamorous new property in September 1976 with top boss Isadore Sharp hosting one of the grandest opening parties ever! It was a fund-raiser for Vancouver Opera and money was no object.

First General Manager was veteran Peter Martin, and aided by his super PR man Ray Torresan, was on hand to welcome all the celebs, diplomats, politicians, special guests and the famed Les Brown and His Band of Renown who played his hit songs all night long for the excited dancers.

One of the most popular G.M.’s of the Four Seasons’ long history was the irreplaceable Ruy Paes Braga, who, along with his best friend Isobel Diamond, actually brought the highly successful charity, the Crystal Ball, to our town from San Francisco, raising millions upon millions of dollars for B.C.’s Children’s Hospital.

I also recall Ruy taking part in Vancouver Opera’s fund-raiser A 1000 and One Nights. He’d decided to go as King Ferdinand of Spain and asked me to play Queen Isabella. I loved it! It was so much fun. Ruy, on the other hand, hated it. He didn’t realize that he’d have to wear very snug panty hose and had a terrible time attempting to get them on!

But he was such a good sport and just a lovely gentleman. He passed away a couple of years ago and his Celebration of Life at the hotel was jammed... And another Four Seasons regular was/is gazillionaire Joe Segal. Besides being wise, wonderful and generous, he also ate/eats his lunch every single day in the Four Seasons! The question today is – where will Joe eat on Jan. 21, 2020?


There’s Hawaiian music and Luau brunches at the Bayshore to welcome new G.M. Paul Channing...The Hyatt’s amazing Gingerbread Lane for Christmas viewing and fund-raising will go ahead as planned, once all the details are worked out.. And Wendy Cocchia’s Christmas luncheon for her Pacific Autism Family Centre Foundation goes Friday, November 29 at Parc Vancouver...Lots more next time! ... Cheers!